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The Original White Panda Face Calibre 2100! - Accept NO Substitutes!
, May 15, 2013
1. Definitely not the cute Boyfriend Watch that your girlfriend would wear:
If the essence of the male species were to be captured in one watch it would be this brolic, robust chunk of white steel famously known as the Calibre 2100. The package does indeed carry a lot of heft for it's size. So much so that when you first pick it up it will feel like the weight of its retail price in nickels (that is $595 in nickel coins by the way). But it is a good solid build that you will grow on you and that you can wear comfortably all day long whether stuck at an office desk or working in the outdoors all day. Compared to the biggest watch in my collection, the 46mm Chrono Time AT BY0000-56L, this 44.5mm sized Calibre 2100 feels twice as heavy when you pick both watches up at the same time.
2. Discussing overall quality:
The design quality is extremely well done and in fact I read an old online article from 2006 stating that the advent of the Calibre 2100 series was one of Citizen's first progression into using better materials for their watches as well as heralding the expansion of the Eco-Drive technology for all their watch movements.
The quality of the lume (luminous phosphorescent)is also second to none. It is bright needing only a few seconds of sunlight to glow in a partly sun lit room. If you need it to shine thru the night just expose it in a few minutes of sunlight. I have never seen a better, more consistent, lume.
However, my praise stops short at the design quality. By contrast the build quality is a love/hate relationship for any 2100 owner. The USA/North American market's Stainless Steel/Mineral Crystal AV0031-59A 2100 watches are prone to show visible scratches even after the slightest wear. The steel bracelet and clasp picks up scratches easily and the mineral crystal glass WILL scratch if you are not careful.
I always wrap my stainless steel clasp in clear scotch tape to keep it from scuffing against my office desk when I'm working long hours at the computer.
Citizen does have several better quality European and Asian market White Panda Face 2100 versions. Notably the AV0030-60A (also called the AV0030-51A) that has Sapphire Crystal on Stainless Steel cases and bands. Then there is the ultra rare AV0020-55A that has both Sapphire Crystal on polished Titanium case & band with Carbide Coating.
In the USA and North America those are rare market versions of the 2100 and obviously will cost more to buy online shipped from overseas but if you get an opportunity to order one of those from overseas online from a reputable seller, even if it is $200 more than the sale price of the steel/mineral 2100, then jump on it quickly.
For those of us already stuck with a AV0031-59A don't despair. Some North American Citizen Service Centers, at the time of this writing, will replace your AV0031-59A's Mineral Crystal with Sapphire Crystal glass for around $69 to $100 (pricing depends on which center you use, when you use the service and your location). This Sapphire replacement service is NOT a warranty service but replacement of a scratched Mineral Crystal glass with new Mineral Crystal glass 'may' be a free warranty service. However at the time you are replacing a broken or scratched Mineral Crystal glass UNDER the free warranty they 'may' upgrade to Sapphire for a discounted fee or free if you ASK.
I have used Citizen Service Centers on many occasions since 2006 and I have found that is always best to call your service center, be as friendly as possible and ASK for what you want. Usually they are super friendly and will work with you in making you a happy customer. Still NOTE that Citizen Service and Warranty terms are always subject to change and what I am writing here is ONLY true at the time of this review (May 2013) and can change or cease all together in the future.
Another thing that gets scratched easily but CANNOT be replaced is the polished bezel frame that surrounds the crystal glass. My service center said it could not be replaced and that they could not (or rather would not) polish the scratches out. So keep that in mind when buying used 2100 watches. A scratched Mineral Crystal glass and scuffed bracelet can be replaced but you can't replaced that scuffed polished bezel ring.
That said, I'm on my second AV0031-59A 2100 watch. My first one purchased in May 2011 immediately got scratched on the glass because I had no idea of the sensitivity of the mineral crystal and was not careful. I replaced the mineral crystal at the Hurley Service Center in Atlanta GA but found out the scratched bezel ring was irreplaceable so sold it off in May 2012 to buy my current AV0031-59A 2100. Since I've been careful with the crystal I have not had any damage on it so far.
3. Discussing the 2100's face:
Compared the all the 2100 series the white color panda face dial is by far the easiest to read at a glance. It is the least busy and cleanest in design. There is not much to say. The main hands are hour, minute, and fly back-chronograph seconds with the red arrow being the alarm location (when the hour hand enters the red arrow the alarm chimes). The sub dials are 3 o'clock for the chronograph minutes, 6 o'clock for the time keeping second hand and 9 o'clock for the chronograph hours (yes this guy does up to 12 hr chrono which is amazing) with the massive 12 o'clock sub dial displaying the current solar charge situation.
4. Discussing the functionality of the Calibre 2100's E210 movement:
The e210 movement's main feature is the powerful sweeping fly-back chronograph. Pressing button A starts and pauses the chronograph. Pressing button B, after button A pauses it, resets the chronograph. The chronograph can record up to 12 hours which is a feature unique to this movement.
The e210 movement also has an alarm chime and a date window. It is not perpetual calender movement and will need to be adjusted every month depending on if the month has 31, 30, 28 or 29 days. There is a massive sub dial for power reserve indicator and a passive Tachymeter scale framing the entire face. Everything works as should and all the movements are spot on accurate.
Because of it's ease of use and readability, I have found that the e210 movement is more of an everyday working watch than a specialist watch or a passive dress piece. The chronograph is useful for sporting events, productivity tasks or activities where one is tracking or timing something for periods longer than the basic 60 minute limit your get with regular chronographs. I could see the e210 movement being a perfect compliment to any profession where keeping tabs on activities lasting more than an hour is vital.
5. What I would change:
I am not a fan of the steel bracelet. The bracelet linkage on the 2100 is a clunky, chunky and rattly affair.
On hot days the steel bracelet can feel cumbersome and often times at the end of a tedious work day I find myself removing the watch to let my wrist breathe and relax. Similar to taking off heavy work boots and putting on flip flops or tennis shoes for the long drive home after work.
I wish the links were closer spaced, a bit wider (24mm instead of 23mm) and slightly thinner (like it is on the BY0000-56L's bracelet). The bracelet on the Calibre 2100 watches are NOT interchangeable with leather/fabric straps or other bracelets.
A major unexpected issue that many first timers will have is with the removable links using the sleeved style pins that make bracelet size adjustment impossible without a proper watch tool (you can easily buy one off eBay from 99 cents and up) or a skilled watch technician nearby (most watch shops or sellers will re-size the bracelet from free to around $5.00).
When attempting to adjust the bracelet and the sleeved pins are pushed out the miniscule sleeves detaches from the pin. These tiny sleeves serve as friction devices holding the pins firmly inside the link holes. Without the sleeves the naked pins will just slide out of the link holes and the bracelet falls apart.
The issue is that once you remove a pin and the sleeve comes off that pin it is impossible (as far as I can tell) to put the sleeve back around the pin without advanced watch tools.
That is if the miniscule sleeve didn't already roll off your table top and already got lost . These sleeves have a tendency to disappear once you start pushing your pins out.
The ONLY way I found to reuse a naked pin is to bend the pin slightly in the middle so it holds in place when inserted back into the linkage hole.
Overall I would have preferred the much easier to use self locking V (wedge) style pin that go in and out of the linkage holes on their own.
That said, the one positive here is the bracelet clasp has a 3 range micro adjustment extension or retraction for making the bracelet slightly bigger or smaller. Micro adjustments can easily be done with a pen tip, paper clip, safety pin or similar object.
Third gripe: For the retail price of $595 I would expect Citizen to use Sapphire Crystal in the USA models.The Mineral Crystal glass will scratch if you are not careful. Also the matte steel bracelet and clasp picks up bruises and scuffs easily compared to other steel clasps I've worn. Furthermore the shiny caseback also scratches and fades away overtime from normal wear.
Finally (and this is not my personal gripe but it should be noted here) the Alarm Chime is not loud at all. It is more of a light reminder-chime than a loud, wake-me-up-alarm chime. I didn't buy this for an alarm clock but I expect many souls will see the alarm/chronograph stamped on the box description and plunk down $595 expecting to be awoken from this watch. They will be very disappointed. For me I have a $5 alarm clock in my bedroom and a 99cent alarm clock in my travel kit to wake me up so I don't expect wake up duties to be held by my wrist watch.
6. Final word:
If there is one watch that you will buy in a 10 year period that you will find extremely hard to flip or part with it would be this Panda Face Calibre 2100 series. It is a timeless piece of business in terms of design and performance quality. It is also easy to wear as a day to day watch going with just about every get up from business attire to sports wear to beach wear, etc... I've seen wedding pictures with Panda Faces clinging to the groom and I've seen this watch countless of times at the gym. That lets you know the 2100 is all about the business and not just about the show.
Get the Sapphire Crystal AV0030-60A(or AV0030-51A) version or call your Service Center and get the Sapphire Crystal upgrade and you will be very happy in doing so. Also the resale values of a used condition AV0031-59A 2100 with or without Sapphire are off the scales. These watches keep a decent value even though Citizen USA still carries this very same original panda face 2100 on their website today and you could still buy them online or brick and mortar retail. Still buyers and eBayers hunger after used 2100s as if these watches are rare discontinued items.
Now that tells you when a watch has a good demand value. Get one and you will be happy!